Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier said Tuesday that he will not--repeat, will not--discipline APD's human overtime Robot officer Simon Drobik for claiming massive amounts of overtime pay.
Photo: APD's human overtime robot Simon Drobik
Geier said in a news release that he will not follow the recommendation of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency that Drobik be fired.
Drobik, a patrol officer, was paid $192,000 in 2019, making him the highest paid employee in all of city government.
Here is APD's news release on the matter:
Chief Geier Outlines Efforts to Fix Overtime Policies
Addresses CPOA findings with mix of modernized compensation accountability and public information staffing practice changes
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – APD Chief Mike Geier outlined efforts today to fix the department’s outdated overtime policies and practices. Chief Geier announced the effort as part of his response to a report by the Civilian Police Oversight Agency.
“We came into an overtime system based on a set of 2015 policies and procedures that were full of loopholes and contradictions,” Chief Geier said. “Exceptions were made over years to deal with massive understaffing. As a result, many officers used those exceptions as opportunities to earn more money.
“We are moving away from what was essentially an ‘honor system’ and forward with a plan to modernize overtime at APD and clean up the process,” Chief Geier said. “As we continue to hire more officers, the time is right to fix this problem and ensure accountability.”
In his response to the CPOA report, Chief Geier outlined several steps APD is taking, along with the development of new policies to modernize the overtime process.
· Modernize the department’s Overtime, Compensatory Time and Work Shift Designation Policy. The policy was scheduled to be updated in 2017, but work was never completed. An independent audit in 2016 made several recommendations that were not addressed.
· Continue to implement changes outlined as part of APD’s budget plan for FY2020, such as:
o Provide Commanders with data about overtime usage and hold them accountable for managing overtime.
o Hold direct supervisors accountable for adjusting work hours when appropriate.
o Develop a training plan that maximizes amount of training completed during normal duty hours and minimizes training completed on overtime.
o Explore opportunities to minimize the amount of non-grant funded tact plan activities completed on overtime.
o Work with Metro and District Court to limit and better manage officer court appearances.
o Separate Chief’s overtime from other sources of overtime.
o End the overlap between Chief’s overtime, on call time and comp time accrual.
· Review recommendations from the CPOA and consider the impact on APD’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In his response to the CPOA report, Chief Geier directly addressed an investigator’s findings related to the use of overtime by Officer Simon Drobik and a supervisor. While Chief Geier agreed with many of the findings of the CPOA about the use of overtime, he disagreed with the recommended level of discipline.
The CPOA investigator identified multiple low-level violations and multiplied sanctions for each instance. In addition, the investigator raised serious concerns about existing policies, yet still recommended outright termination for violating those policies. In fact, the relevant polices had expired under the previous administration, causing inconsistencies and widespread confusion among officers about overtime practices.
Rather than imposing discipline that is unfair and excessive, Chief Geier reiterated that he is modernizing the overtime policy to ensure fiscal accountability. Chief Geier is placing Officer Drobik on administrative assignment, requiring him to report directly to the Deputy Chief of Staff. This will enable APD administration to monitor Officer Drobik’s use of time and ensure a balance between duties related to communications and duties related to field work. Officer Drobik has offered to surrender his existing “comp bucket” to repay the department for the comp time he earned on days he worked a Chief’s Overtime assignment or for unauthorized times he ran with cadets.
APD is in the process of reviewing the PIO position to determine what additional support is needed to best effectuate the goals of the position. A plan will be developed for additional personnel within the department to take on the responsibilities held by Officer Drobik in his position as PIO.
Mayor Keller added, “The department’s commitment to revamping the overtime policy reflects that the particular personnel issue was just the tip of iceberg; their efforts should bring needed accountability to the overtime system, decentralize our PIOs to better align with community policing, and still ensure that our officers have the flexibility to provide the protection our community needs.”
Work on new overtime policies and public information staffing model is expected to be phased in over time and will be completed by the end of summer.